LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 21 (Reuters) - Rickie Fowler played the British Open third round on Saturday at the opposite end of the leaderboard to what he has been used to this year with a little-known player almost twice his age.
But it did not bother the 23-year-old American one little bit.
Rather than lament his lowly position at Lytham, a far cry from last year's Open in which he finished joint fifth, the world number 20 set about striking up a friendly rivalry with 502nd-ranked Brazilian Adilson da Silva.
"I've met a lot of great people through the years with golf and it's taken me a lot of great places. I met another great guy today because of golf," the sharp-dressing Fowler, wearing bright blues shoes, told Reuters.
Da Silva, who finished with a one-over-par 71 to be a shot behind Fowler (70) on four-over 214 after 54 holes, was equally complimentary about his playing partner.
"He's a polite youngster with a great swing and he's got a big future," said the 40-year-old, who has lived in Zimbabwe and South Africa for the last 20 years.
Fowler bagged his first PGA Tour victory in May at Quail Hollow, beating world number two Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff, and he is one of the game's brightest young prospects.
Although the Ryder Cup player is used to more high-profile partners, he said there was no lack of competitive spirit against Da Silva.
"That's what golf's all about, the ball doesn't know how old you are," he said. "It's all about who can score the lowest and get the ball in the hole quickest.
"It's humbling but you don't want to lose to the older guys," joked Fowler who was followed round by a legion of fans sporting the famous all-orange attire he wears every Sunday, the colours of his former Oklahoma State University. (Editing by Ed Osmond)